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Tue Feb 9, 2021, 03:51 PM

Another "emergency" situation - Humanity Is Flushing Away One of Life's Essential Elements

We broke Phophorous

First is was loss of topsoil, then it was how much better cover crops would suck up CO2 than switching from fossil fuels; here's the newest "scarcity" in the rebuilding of farm fields in which we grow our foods


In a field of sugar beets outside Cambridge, England, Simon Kelly stands above a narrow trench gouged into the rusty earth, roughly 15 feet deep and 30 feet long. “Welcome to the pit,” says Kelly, a bespectacled, white-bearded geologist in a straw hat and khaki shirt. “You’re seeing something that hasn’t been seen in a long time.”

The rock layers exposed in the trench date back more than 100 million years, to when England lay submerged beneath a warm, shallow sea. Kelly—a researcher at a nonprofit geology consultancy—specializes in marine fossils of that era (“Dicranodonta vagans!” he exclaims when I find a stone pocked with the impressions of tiny clam-like shells, which he asks to keep). That’s why he had an excavator dig this trench in 2015, and why he has spent countless hours since then sifting through its trove of treasures. “Going out to Simon’s hole, are you?” Kelly’s wife deadpanned when I picked him up on the morning of my visit.

I had come because “Simon’s hole” also contained objects of more recent historical significance: dull, round pebbles that once helped feed the United Kingdom. By the 1800s, centuries of cultivation had sapped Britain’s soils of nutrients, including phosphorus—an essential element for crops. At the time, manure and bones were common sources of phosphorus, and when the country exhausted its domestic reserves, it looked elsewhere for more.

“Great Britain is like a ghoul, searching the continents,” wrote Justus von Liebig, the German chemist who first identified the critical role of phosphorus in agriculture. “Already in her eagerness for bones, she has turned up the battlefields of Leipzig, of Waterloo, and of the Crimea; already from the catacombs of Sicily she has carried away the skeletons of many successive generations.” [snip]

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Reply Another "emergency" situation - Humanity Is Flushing Away One of Life's Essential Elements (Original post)
Backseat Driver Feb 2021 OP
Dark n Stormy Knight Oct 26 #1
Backseat Driver Oct 27 #2
Dark n Stormy Knight Oct 27 #3

Response to Backseat Driver (Original post)

Wed Oct 26, 2022, 09:02 PM

1. That was a fascinating article! Thanks for posting.

(If you're re still here, on DU. I know this was posted close to two years ago.)

I'm a flower gardener and try to use as many resources as possible that are available to me from the small bit of woods on my property. Using sticks as plant supports instead of buying the popularly sold plastic ones, for instance.

Also, I'm sort of obsessed with (or haunted by) the lack of willingness to conserve resources. For instance, the fast clothing industry, the fact that most people don't recycle at all, and the way most homeowners have their fallen leaves bagged up and hauled away, often to a landfill, drives me crazy.

Though, I often wonder why I bother, considering the tiny difference one person can make.

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Response to Dark n Stormy Knight (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 27, 2022, 01:28 AM

2. Yup, still here...and thanks for reading.

I once had a 50-count rose garden when I owned a home. Now I keep a very tiny garden in front of the A/C units between our townhouse rental patio fencing between units, mainly for tomato sauce portions I freeze for winter. I turn those leaves you mention into my garden, but a lot of them are from oak trees that don't compost well or which get blown away by the landscapers, so I play with supplements and soil augmentations too. Next year, biochar? Don't know where the oak leaves come from. Most trees in our apt complex are 30-year-old Plane trees (sycamores) and ornamental crabapples. I supplement some feral domestic ducks' diet with healthy cracked corn; they live in our storm drain retainer pond. Today I was finding out about electric aggregation programs; it's going to be on our Nov ballot so our community can perhaps one day get involved in offering a better alternative electricity rate to everyone in our suburban city...but, I like the personal freedom to make my own choice of a 100% sustainable electricity provider from the PUCO-approved list on their site. It's a little more expensive but worth it to quit supporting fossil-fuel users. My car is old and awaiting repair. I'd like to be an early adapter for an electric vehicle, but beyond my budget, LOL! Sometimes I too wonder if one person can make a difference against plastic pollution, toxic chemicals in our foods, water, and climate changes that likely can't happen soon enough...Do you play Free the Ocean's little free daily quiz to help remove plastic bottles from the ocean and learn about sea life? I order local farm foods and visit their farm stores. Market Wagon is a good service...OK - gotta log off and get to bed....Nice talking to you!

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Response to Backseat Driver (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 27, 2022, 03:47 AM

3. Hey, we're both gardeners trying to incorporate earth-friendly techniques.

I'd love to have seen your rose garden. I don't get enough sun to keep roses happy.

Electric cars, same as you--sure, I'd love to have one, but the cost would put a big strain on our budget. I did, years ago, switch us over to a sustainable electricity provider, despite the increased cost.

I try to buy locally produced food, though that can also be pricey. Not especially confident it matters, but I prefer to stick with organic, grass-fed, etc.

I used to do the quizzes at Recyclebank, but they closed down. I didn't know about the Free the Ocean quiz. Glad you told me. I got the popin' pistol shrimp question right today.

Good luck with the ducks, tomatoes, etc. Thanks for the chat!

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